When it comes to raising fraternal twins, I like to think of myself as sort of a guru. Not only am I a fraternal twin myself, but I come from a family of only twins, I have tons of friends who are twins, and sometimes I think we should have our own sitcom or something. Well, maybe not a sitcom, but at least an honorable mention in the book of world records considering how many fraternal twins there are in my family. Anyway, raising fraternal twins is twice as hard as raising one child and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. So here are my tips for raising fraternal twins based on my own personal experiences and a lifetime of memories!
1. Do Not Give Them Similar Names
This one is tricky because some people think it’s adorable to name their children Ryan and Ryanne, David and Davida, or Keiran and Keira, the list is endless. But this is just a huge NO in my book. Sure, it’s really cute at first, but a big thing to consider when raising fraternal twins is making sure your children have completely different identities. Giving them similar names may inhibit that, not to mention embarrass them for the rest of their lives once they pass age 10.
2. Do Not Put Them in the Same Classes
Of the many things I am so thankful my mother did growing up, one of them was that she demanded we stay in separate classes in school. As a child I couldn’t really understand it at the time, but looking back and seeing how other parents went about raising fraternal twins, I am so happy she did. Putting your children in separate classes in school is important because it helps them grow, develop, and succeed on their own, without living in the shadow of their twin. Although some people consider fraternal twins to be completely different than identical twins or other multiples, they are really exactly the same when it comes to behavior and development. As a child I relied on my twin for so many things, but being in separate classes all through school allowed me to be my own person- which is crucial when you are a twin.
3. Do Not Dress Them up the Same
Now you might think dressing up fraternal twins who are not the same gender seems ridiculous, but I have seen it done! And it is not pretty! When raising fraternal twins, even wearing the same color is just way too much. Especially at a young age when both boys and girls tend to have hair the same length, you don’t want people confusing them or mixing them up, especially when they are not the same gender. If you feel comfortable letting your children pick out their own clothes, this will help them feel confident in the future about their own unique opinions and decision making skills.
4. Do Not Compare
I think this rule should be applied to all siblings, and through the years I was very resentful of people who compared me to my twin. The last thing you want to do when raising fraternal twins is create a rivalry. Comparing your children will do just that, not to mention create tons of jealousy and anger amongst everyone in the family. Remember: not everyone is good at everything but everyone is good at something, and both of your children will have their respective talents and faults. Don’t criticize them for things they can’t control.
5. Do Let Them Develop Different Interests
This tip for raising fraternal twins is similar to putting your children in separate classes, in that you want to encourage separation- not from you, but from each other. As a child I remember many times when I only wanted to spend time with my twin. I would always ask my parents where he was, but they always separated us for a significant amount of time to ensure that we would grow up with our own identities. Encouraging your children to develop their own interests is very important. Maybe it will seem like a hassle, driving one child to karate and another to ballet, but in the end it will be worth it- especially since you also want your children to have their own group of friends, values, and ideas down the line, regardless of what their twin thinks.
6. Do Not Ignore Your Other Children
It can be very exciting when you are raising fraternal twins. As silly as this sounds, I know some parents feel like they beat the system by being able to produce two babies at the same time. Having two children in the same house who are the same age, going through all the same life stages at exactly the same time, is a lot of fun. But what people don’t realize is that if you have twins once, you are 50% more likely to have twins again, which is probably why there are so many twins in my family! Nevertheless, your twins will always have a special bond, but it’s important not to leave out any other children you have because the last thing you want is for them to feel left out or unloved. Also watch out for bullying, since it will be very easy for older twins to gang up on a younger sibling.
7. Do Tell Your Family and Friends to do the Same
The worst thing about raising fraternal twins, or children in general I should say, is when your spouse and extended family do not agree with your parenting skills. This can lead to tons of disagreements and arguments, so when you find out that you will shortly be raising fraternal twins, talk with your spouse and family and make sure they agree on all these ideas. You would not want your twins to grow up with conflicting messages or ideas. Another awful byproduct of that situation is one twin following your rules and the other being disobedient. So do your best to make sure they both turn out happy and healthy, because in the end, whether you have twins or not, that’s all anyone can ever work towards and hope for with their children.
Having children is one of life’s greatest blessings but it’s not easy. No one can be the perfect parent or child, and raising fraternal twins is the kind of thing you cannot prepare for. I have no regrets from my childhood as a fraternal twin, and in adulthood I am happy to see twins among my family and friends succeed using the same principles that my mother did. So, can you think of any tips for raising fraternal twins that I did not include on this list? Do you have any stories about fraternal twins that were remedied by using any of the tips mentioned? Feel free to share your stories and experiences! Aren’t fraternal twins the greatest?!